In May of 2014, Louisa Rose Allen released her debut album Glorious. While it did get some recognition, the artist better known as Foxes could not shake the label of being “that featured artist,” with her featuring on Zedd’s Grammy award-winning song “Clarity,” as well as Fall Out Boy’s “Just One Yesterday.” Two years later, it is safe to say that Allen is still trying to carve out an identity with the release of her sophomore album, All I Need.
Instead of focusing on synthpop hits, Allen aims for All I Need to be much more raw and emotional, with the talented singer-songwriter showcasing her vocals — though she does retain some of the synthpop that put her name on the map. To aid her case, no song on All I Need has a featured artist.
Throughout the entirety of the album, Allen shows how a heartbreak nearly crippled her, but rather than letting it get the best of her, she tries to chose the better path. On “Rise Up,” the voice of Allen’s niece says, “If I was a bird, I could fly far, far, far away,” followed by an instrumental that instills the emotional feeling of rising up as powerfully as a Lindsey Stirling violin piece could.
“On My Way,” “Devil Side,” and “Scar” show Allen’s love for ballads — the pain in her voice is unmistakable as Allen tries to give the listener an inside view of what she has gone through. While the rendition is not on the album, the acoustic version of “Devil Side” is especially haunting as the acoustic setting allows for the listener to feel each word as if it has its own voice.
While not a ballad, “If You Leave Me Now” is equally as saddening as the two songs that precede it. It is the glue of the entire album, exploring Allen’s heartbreak head-on.
Of course, though Allen makes sure to focus the album on her vocals, she also keeps the synthpop that is synonymous with her name. The best synthpop songs of the album are “Shoot Me Down,” “Wicked Love,” “and “Body Talk.”
Allen possess an ability to play her voice against the lyrics; she disguises “Shoot Me Down” as a melodious and happy song, though lyrically it is quite dark. The manner in which the song flows reminded me of “White Coats” from Glorious.
“Body Talk,” the album’s first single, is the most dance-oriented track on All I Need. The lyrics allude to how the speaker realizes she is better off without a relationship, but misses its physicality — what better way to channel frustration and sadness than dancing? The guitar riffs have the song sounding as if it were released in the ‘80s, but with a new spin courtesy of Allen’s powerful voice.
On the other hand, “Amazing” and “Lose My Cool” aren’t too meaningful — the former doesn’t feel like it belongs on the album, with an inspirational message shoved in the listener’s ears, and the latter doesn’t have much going for it either — though the two are undeniably catchy.
All I Need ends with a reprised version of “Rise Up,” beginning in the same way as the intro, with Allen’s niece reciting, “If I was a bird, I could fly far, far, far away.” “Rise Up” is essentially the credits of the album: Allen over her heartbreak, taking off as with the intro, with fantastic production behind her.